Front page of the Le Figaro, 30 January 2014.
|Founded||15 January 1826|
Le Figaro (French pronunciation: [lə fiɡaʁo]) is a French daily newspaper founded in 1826 and published in Paris. It has been generally well respected in post-World War II France. Its editorial line is conservative.
It is the second-largest national newspaper in France after Le Parisien and before Le Monde, although some regional papers have larger circulations. It is one of the three French newspapers of record, along with social-liberal papers Le Monde and Libération, and is the oldest newspaper in France.
The newspaper is owned by Le Figaro Group, whose publications include TV Magazine and Evene. The company's chairman is Serge Dassault, whose Dassault Group has controlled the paper since 2004.
The paper was founded as a satirical weekly in 1826, taking its name and motto from Le Mariage de Figaro, a play by Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais that poked fun at privilege. Its motto, from Figaro's monologue in the play's final act, is "Sans la liberté de blâmer, il n'est point d'éloge flatteur" ("Without the freedom to criticise, there is no true praise"). It was published somewhat irregularly until 1854, when it was taken over by Hippolyte de Villemessant.
By 1866, it had gained the greatest circulation of any newspaper in France. Its first daily edition, that of 16 November 1866, sold 56,000 copies. Albert Wolff, Émile Zola, Alphonse Karr and Jules Claretie were among the paper's early contributors. In 1833, editor Nestor Roqueplan fought a duel with a Colonel Gallois, who was offended by an article in Le Figaro, and was wounded but recovered. On 16 March 1914, Gaston Calmette, the editor of Le Figaro, was assassinated by Henriette Caillaux, the wife of Finance Minister Joseph Caillaux, after he published a letter that cast serious doubt on her husband's integrity. In 1922, Le Figaro was purchased by perfume millionaire François Coty. Abel Faivre did cartoons for the paper.
In 1975, Le Figaro was bought by Robert Hersant's Socpresse. In 1999, the Carlyle Group obtained a 40% stake in the paper, which it later sold in March 2002. As of 2004[update], Le Figaro is controlled by Serge Dassault, a conservative businessman and politician best known for running the aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, which he inherited from his father, its founder, Marcel (1892–1986).
Le Figaro has published The New York Times International Weekly on Friday since 2009, an 8-page supplement featuring a selection of articles from The New York Times translated into French. In 2010, Lefigaro.fr created a section called Le Figaro in English, which provides the global English-speaking community with daily original or translated content from Le Figaro’s website. The section ended in 2012.
Controversy about editorial independence
Controversial both inside and outside the newspaper is its ownership by a person who also controls a major military supplier, as well as being a mayor and senator from the Union for a Popular Movement party, whose son Olivier Dassault is a member of the French National Assembly for the same party. In response, Dassault remarked in an interview on the public radio station France Inter, that "newspapers must promulgate healthy ideas" and that "left-wing ideas are not healthy ideas."
In February 2012, a general assembly of the newspaper's journalists adopted a motion accusing the paper's managing editor, Étienne Mougeotte, of having made Le Figaro into the "bulletin" of the governing party, the Union for a Popular Movement, of the government and of President Nicolas Sarkozy. They requested more pluralism and "honesty" rather than one-sided political reporting. Mougeotte had previously said that Le Figaro would do nothing to embarrass the government and the right. Mougeotte publicly replied:
Our editorial line pleases our readers as it is, it works. I don't see why I should change it. [...] We are a right-wing newspaper and we express it clearly, by the way. Our readers know it, our journalists too. There's nothing new to that!
In the period of 1995-96, the paper had a circulation of 391,533 copies, behind Le Parisien's 451,159 copies.
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